Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Part 1 Complete Works, Volume Six

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 39

all those moments of comfort in which every day is
rich, even in the most harried of human lives.


50.

THE WISH TO AROUSE PITY.--In the most remarkable passage of his
auto--portrait (first printed in 1658), La Rochefoucauld assuredly
hits the nail on the head when he warns all sensible people against
pity, when he advises them to leave that to those orders of the people
who have need of passion (because it is not ruled by reason), and to
reach the point of helping the suffering and acting energetically in an
accident; while pity, according to his (and Plato's) judgment, weakens
the soul. Certainly we should _exhibit_ pity, but take good care not
to _feel_ it, for the unfortunate are so _stupid_ that to them the
exhibition of pity is the greatest good in the world. One can, perhaps,
give a more forcible warning against this feeling of pity if one looks
upon that need of the unfortunate not exactly as stupidity and lack of
intellect, a kind of mental derangement which misfortune brings with
it (and as such, indeed, La Rochefoucauld appears to regard it), but
as something quite different and more serious. Observe children, who
cry and scream _in order_ to be pitied, and therefore wait for the
moment when they will be noticed; live in intercourse with the sick and
mentally oppressed, and ask yourself whether that ready complaining and
whimpering, that making a show of misfortune, does not, at bottom, aim
at _making the spectators miserable;_ the pity which the spectators
then exhibit is in so far a consolation for the weak and suffering in
that the latter recognise therein that they _possess still one power,_
in spite of their weakness, _the power of giving pain._ The unfortunate
derives a sort of pleasure from this feeling of superiority, of which
the exhibition of pity makes him conscious; his imagination is exalted,
he is still powerful enough to give the world pain. Thus the thirst for
pity is the thirst for self-gratification, and that, moreover, at the
expense of his fellow-men; it shows man in the whole inconsiderateness
of his own dear self, but not exactly in his "stupidity," as La
Rochefoucauld thinks. In society-talk three-fourths of all questions
asked and of all answers given are intended to cause the interlocutor
a little pain; for this reason so many people pine for company; it
enables them to feel their power. There is a powerful charm of life
in such countless but very small doses in which malice makes itself
felt, just as goodwill, spread in the same way throughout the world, is
the ever-ready

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